Monday, October 5, 2020

#1956Club: Voyage into Violence

I read this book for the 1956 Club hosted by Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings.

Voyage into Violence is the 21st of 26 mysteries featuring Mr. and Mrs. North. Amateur sleuths are not my favorites, but Pam and Jerry North usually work with a New York City homicide detective, Bill Weigand. So the cases are really solved by the police, with their help. It seems that in the ones I have read recently, Pam is the sleuth in the family, but her contribution is often more intuitive than actual sleuthing.

The main characters in this series are very likable. If I remember correctly, Pam and Jerry are directly involved in a murder in the first one, and that is how they meet Bill Weigand. In the early books, Dorian is Bill's girlfriend and the two couples become friends. By the time of this mystery, Bill and Dorian are married and the two couples have gone on a Caribbean cruise together. 

Very shortly, a murder occurs and the Captain of the ship calls in Bill to help out. Dorian is not happy about this at all, but resigned to the inevitability of it all. Pam and Jerry are of course glad to help out.

The people involved in the crimes in these books are usually upper middle class. Jerry North is a book publisher and comparatively well off. Weigand is a police officer, but has money from other sources. And in this case, they are on a cruise, among other people with enough money to take a cruise. Definitely not something my parents were thinking about doing in 1956.

I enjoyed the depiction of a cruise in 1956, and the investigation that ensues when a dead body, clearly murdered, is discovered onboard. The limitations that Weigand has to deal with in his investigation are interesting. Communications between the ship and the mainland was more difficult at that time. 

I noted lots of smoking, in fact the cruise ship has a smoking lounge. And a lot of imbibing of alcohol. In my review of an earlier book in the series, Murder within Murder, I compared Pam and Jerry to Nick and Nora Charles, although that is only in relation to their drinking and the light tone of the stories. Nick Charles is clearly a sleuth where Jerry North is more in a supporting role, especially in this novel. The novels about the Norths are light, with humor, but not laugh out loud funny.

There are lots of interesting passengers on the cruise: a group called the Ancient and Respectable Riflemen, led by Captain Folsom; a well-known private investigator, now retired, J. Orville Marsh; Olivia Macklin, traveling with her daughter. And all of these people seem slightly shady to me.


I read a good number of the Mr. and Mrs North books decades ago and enjoyed them. Of course, at the time I was reading them, they were not set so far in the past; these books may not appeal to younger mystery readers.


 -----------------------------

Publisher:   J. B. Lippincott, 1956
Length:       191 pages
Format:       Hardcover 
                  (book club edition)
Series:        Mr. & Mrs. North, #21
Setting:       On a Caribbean cruise.
Genre:        Mystery
Source:       I purchased my copies.

28 comments:

Neeru said...

Love murder mysteries set on ships (and, for that matter, on trains too) so am definitely eager to read this. However, I plan to read this series in order so it is going to take a long time getting to this considering the fact I haven't even started it:)

TracyK said...

I have a few more murder mysteries set on ships I want to read, Neeru. I think reading this series in order would be fun, because you could see the development of the relationships. I currently am making a list of recommended books in the series to choose from when I can read more of them.

Nancy said...

I like the North's but my favorite character is Captain/Inspector Heimrich. I have many of their books. I used to buy them second hand at Uncle Edgar's in Minneapolis. I sure miss that shop which was burned down in the June riots.

Cath said...

Now this is a sleuthing couple I had not heard of and like the sound of. And I quite like a good shipboard whodunnit.

I might do the 1956 Club challenge, we'll see, I did look to see which vintage crime stories were published then and came up with Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie, Be Shot for Sixpence by Michael Gilbert and Murder in Vienna by E.C.R. Lorac, which is a nice choice. And I'm sure there are a 'lot' more.

TracyK said...

Nancy, thanks for commenting. I read some of the Heimrich books when I was younger. I plan to look for some now to try again.

I did hear about what happened to Uncle Edgar's and Uncle Hugo's. That book store must have been wonderful to shop at.

TracyK said...

Cath, someone was commenting that there were lots of 1956 books to choose from. That is interesting. All of those that you mentioned sound good. I did consider the Agatha Christie, but I am still trying to read through the Poirot's mostly in order, and I think I am back in the 1940s with that series.

Kate said...

I have read a number of Lockridge novels and they have never overly impressed me, though some were more enjoyable than others. This was not one of them, for me at any rate. One of my main issues is Pam, who just gets on my wick - she is too much the dumb female and her only real role seems to be the wearing of rather minimal swim wear. A fact which is over-repeated. I don't think the Norths do as much sleuthing in this one as they do in others too. I also think the reader lacks many overt clues to work with, as Bill gains a lot of background info via the ship's radio and this is not necessarily passed on to the reader in a timely fashion.
The beginning of the book was good though, from what I can remember, but it somewhat deteriorated in quality after that.
It's annoying, as being a fan of sleuthing couples like Jane and Dagobert Brown, I really wanted to enjoy the Norths as well. But after several tries I had to give it up.

Margot Kinberg said...

There's definitely something about a cruise context that lends itself to a good murder mystery, Tracy. There are all sorts of interactions, a limited space (even if the ship is large), and so on. You can definitely see how murder might ensue...

TracyK said...

Kate, that is interesting, about Pam's bathing suits. I did not notice that at all. I do remember vividly her being attacked (sort of) in her room after taking off her bathing suit in preparation for a bath. I was surprised that, in a book written at that time, they noted that she was naked. I agree, much less sleuthing for the Norths in this one, which might have given it an edge for me. In this case, I was more into the setting than concerned about the puzzle. But I am still wanting to read more books in this series, and also try the Heimrich and Shapiro series. If I can locate the books without too much trouble.

TracyK said...

Margot, I like the cruise context too. I need to round up all the books I have set on ships (not sure how many are cruises). There is the additional element that there is nowhere to go but the ship. No escape.

John Kerry said...

I admit I haven't read any of the books but I have seen several episodes of the old Mr. and Mrs. North television series. In several of those shows Pam is actually the one who figures out who the murderer is. I recall one where she realizes the husband is the murderer because something was where it couldn't be if he was as much an invalid as he was thought to be. I well have to look and see if I can find any of the books second hand. Thanks for the heads up.

TracyK said...

Thanks for reminding me of that, John. I meant to mention all the adaptations of the series, but ran out of time. I will have to find another in the series and focus on that when I post about it. There were two other novels that were also put out in that Green Door paperback series and I would love to have those.

I am sure I would love the TV series, especially if Pam is more of a sleuth there. It seems to me that she had much more of a part in the sleuthing in the other book I read, but my review doesn't mention that, so I am not sure.

Katrina said...

This one appeals to me, I like the idea of a sleuthing couple and murder on a cruise, the vintage atmosphere would be up my street too. I'll have to see if I can find any of the books. I'm reading a Philip K. Dick book from 1956, SF dates so quickly!

TracyK said...

Katrina, some of the novels in this series are very light mysteries, which draws criticism, but I enjoy the picture of the times and will be reading more of them now and then.

I am eager to read your assessment of the Philip K. Dick book, I have only read The Man in the High Castle, which I loved. But I want to read more of his books.

Nan said...

Oh, I must read some of these books! Do you think they need to be read in order? I have the first in the series on my Kindle, and I will give it a try when I finish my current book. Thanks for the reminder. I've had it a few years. It was a tv show, but I've heard not as good as the books, I think.
Ah, the days of smoking. The days of living and not worrying about every single thing. My folks were smokers and I can see the cartons of L&Ms and Camels on the counter! They weren't drinkers, though.

Nan said...

Me, again. I just saw Amazon Prime offers the tv shows! I'm gonna watch some.

CLM said...

I've never read this series either but it does sound as if I could pick up any title without much worrying about reading in order. How would you compare to Tommy and Tuppence?

TracyK said...

Nan, Although there are some small changes in the series as it moves along, as far as I know reading in order would make no difference one way or the other. When I was a child, my parents did not smoke and I only knew one woman who smoked. Of course, as I got older I knew more smokers.

So glad you saw that the Mr. & Mrs North show is on Prime. I did not know that. We will give it a try too.

TracyK said...

Constance, I agree about reading in any order, although possibly reading some early ones first would provide more background. I was thinking about Tommy and Tuppence. I have read those books but it has been a while. I think that the Norths involvement with crime is much more casual, not sought out. Pam North is more ditzy than Tuppence would ever be (as I remember her), and that bothers some people. I like the relationship of Pam and Jerry North.

joan.kyler said...

Tracy, if you get this comment in time, the Mr. & Mrs. North book A Pinch of Poison is available, today only, for $1.99 on Early Bird Books.

kaggsysbookishramblings said...

Oooh, a new author and series to me - what a great find for 1956! Thank you for joining in! :D

TracyK said...

Joan, thank you very much, I have just purchased the kindle edition of A Pinch of Poison. Coincidentally I had just been looking at reviews of that very book (at Goodreads) earlier this morning and they were very positive.

TracyK said...

Karen, I hope you do like this series if you give it a try, and I do think it is worthwhile to try at least one. I enjoy this meme very much, so thanks for hosting it.

joan.kyler said...

Oh, yea, I'm glad my comment was useful!

Simon T (StuckinaBook) said...

Not heard of this series! I do love an intuitive amateur sleuth, but it sounds like this series is best of both worlds. And isn't it odd how something like smoking can date a book so much?

TracyK said...

Simon, the Lockridge's books were very popular when they were published yet not many people seek them out now. I like books from earlier periods to see what life was like then, and it was amazing how much smoking there was. It is hard to remember what that was like before laws about smoking in public areas.

Clothes in Books said...

Never read any of this series, but I do love a book set on a cruise, as I think we've discussed before, so maybe this is the place to start...I was very interested in yours and Kate's comments above...

TracyK said...

Moira, I can say for sure that clothes were noted in this book. That and the cruise could make it worthwhile for you.